Comparative Survey, Descriptive Research

  Comparative survey research is a type of descriptive survey where it aims to compare the status of two or more variable, institutions, strategies etc. This technique often uses multiple disciplines in one study.This does not only compare different groups but also same group over time.Few points are to be kept in mind before starting the comparative survey. ·        Comparison Points -The research should be very clear regarding the points to be compared. This can also be identified through review of literature and experience of experts. ·        Assumption of Similarities -  One has to be clear about the similarities the two variable hold. If the researcher do not find this there is no point of comparison. Criteria of Comparison - The researcher has to identify the criteria of comparison keeping in mind the fairness and objectivity. Appropriate tools has to be identified for measurement of criterion variables. Comparative survey research is carried on when the researcher cannot

Wit and irony in Jane Austen's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

Jane Austen

History of English Language

Jane Austen (1775-1817) one of the realistic novelists was born in Hampshire. Her father was a clergyman and had acquired good taste in the choice of reading material. As such, Jane’s education was conducted on sound lines. Her first published works were issued anonymously. She died quite early before her merits had received anything like adequate recognition. As her works were not published in the order of composition, therefore, it is not possible to follow the chronology.

However, her first novel was Pride and Prejudice followed by Sense and Sensibility. Between 1798 and 1811 there was a pause in her writing. Then the three novels followed in quick succession- Mansfield Park, Emma and Persuasion. All her works are much the same yet subtly and artistically different.

In Pride and Prejudice we have middle class people pursuing the common round. The heroine is a girl of spirit with no extraordinary qualities. Her prejudice, the pride of rank and wealth are gently but pleasingly tilted as if they are being subjected to an electric current of carefully selected intensity. The style is smooth and unobtrusive but covers a delicate pricking of irony that is agreeable and masterly in its quiet way. In unobtrusive and dexterous art the book is considered to be her masterpiece. Jane Austen uses ironic statements throughout her narration to comment on social behaviour. The novel begins with one such statement,

It is truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

The generalization and the assumption in this sentence, that, all people know that a single rich man must want a wife is humorous and sarcastic. She is attacking the attitude of society that views this man as a possession to be grasped by the most enterprising mother and daughters. It is not only in narration that Jane Austen uses wit. Her most admirable characters in the novel are those that are themselves witty. Mr. Bennet, for example is described as thus,

Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick tarts, sarcastic humour, reserve and caprice…

While he has his faults, we are meant to admire this sarcastic man, and thus, to admire the way in which he shuns the standards of society. Elizabeth Bennet, the protagonist is also a witty character that uses irony to her advantage,

She had a lovely, playful disposition which delighted in anything ridiculous.

The wit is as noted more varied. There is the wit displayed by the characters as when Lizzy says the following to Jane-

Well, he certainly is very agreeable, and I give you leave to like him. You have liked many a stupider person.

The subject of wit and irony in Jane Austen’s great novel is so rich that we can start the subject anywhere. In general, there are several kinds of irony and a wide variety of wit. The ironies are situational like- when Lady Catherine de Bourgh approaches Lizzy about marrying Darcy; she helps create the very thing she wants to avoid.
Linguistic irony is also used in the novel. A very good example of this kind is seen in the remark by Elizabeth about Lady Catherine-

Though this great lady was not in the commission of the peace for the country, she was a most active magistrate in her own parish.

This is an ironical remark since, it was impossible for a woman to be magistrate or a justice of the peace at that period. We also find social irony in Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen herself gives an ironical statement about marriage.

Single women have a dreadful propensity for being poor, which is one very strong argument in favour of matrimony.

At that age, marriage was usually the only means of social mobility for women and only a number of them could marry without a dowry or any other kind of settlement. Irony is thus a gesture towards an illusory freedom. It is an important feature in the structure of the novel. The sharpness of irony, increases or decreases, in direct proportion to the distance that separates a particular character from his ideal. We notice the irony in Mr. Bennets’s  delightment when Jane is deserted by Bingley,

Next to being married, a girl likes to be crossed in love a little now and then. It is something to think of and gives her a sort of distinction among her companions.

Wit has a corrective purpose in the form of satire and the satire was at its height in the eighteenth century. The reason behind this was that the writers at that time were inclined towards ‘Nature’ and ‘Nature and Reason’. As such the person who finds himself most close to nature reacts strongly to the evidence of human unreason. The expression of wit was also elegant that is the way of ‘following nature’. Jane Austen was also found adopting the similar style.

The political and economic changes were observed by the end of the 18th cen. which led to the change in philosophy and thought. Though ‘nature’ remained at the highest position, instead of ‘reason’, human instincts and emotions were given place. Burke sums up the changing view in the following words,

            …human nature of which human reason is but a part and that by no means the greatest part.

This changed perception was embodied by novel. The sentimental fiction of this time depicted heightened morals and emotions. Wit became both as a means of corrective purpose and subverting the cult of sensibility. Jane Austen uses this wit very intelligently and also retains an awareness that

Laughter when accompanied by good sense produces true wit.

Her Pride and Prejudice serves as the best example of true wit.
Irony is treated as both method and theme by Peter Conrad as it is used in the evasion of pain as well as subversion. Irony is the way out for a character who cannot show open contempt for society but tactfully acknowledges that social accountability on a ‘contractual hypocrisy’. It is thus, a means of passing moral judgements as well as of evading them, a means of attack as well as of self-defence. The best example of this kind is observed in Elizabeth’s reaction to Darcy’s rejection of her at the ball.

Thus, in the novel Pride and Prejudice both wit and irony are treated as major themes by which the theme of novel is presented. They envelop the whole story of the novel. As such, the work is treated as the wittiest writings of Jane Austen and also as her masterpiece.


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